Here at the Black Shell Media office, we know how to have a good time (When we’re not neck deep in work that is). We hang out, we play Zombie Party, and we joke around. One of my own character traits involves me parsing any new information I receive through a filter of pre-existing understanding. Generally, this means that I will find a Spongebob episode or quote to frame this information in. It’s in this way that I eventually realized that many lessons I’ve learned while working at this job, I had actually known years before through Spongebob- I just didn’t know it.
More specifically, I realized, that many of the ideas, strategies, and quotes which came from everyone’s favorite money grubbing crustacean, Mr. Krabs, had some sound logic behind them. While over exaggerated and seemingly silly, within the right context it all made sense.
Always Deliver the Krusty Krab Pizza
Here at Black Shell, this ended up being coined as one of our internal catchphrases. It stems from Season 1, Episode 5, of Spongebob. The premise of the episode goes as such- the Krusty Krab is just about to close up shop for the day when a customer ends up calling in. He asks for a pizza, despite the restaurant only serving burgers. Naturally, the cashier, Squidward, rejects the customer, only for his boss, Mr. Krabs, to show up and override Squidward’s refusal. Mr. Krabs effortlessly turns a pile of hamburgers into a pizza somehow, then tasks Squidward and Spongebob with the delivery of said pizza.
Sounds silly right? But Mr. Krabs is not as greedy as he seems, he found a niche that his business could fulfill and is attempting to capitalize from that. This relates back to Black Shell Media in the sense that every game has specific needs when it comes to marketing and promotion. We try to “deliver the Krusty Krab pizza” in the sense that, if there’s something we haven’t done in the past that we could start doing to help out the specific needs of a new game, we are more than willing to do it. Even if we sell hamburgers, if our customer wants pizza, we’ll do our best to see if that’s possible.
Now, there is a catch to this one. Over expanding the scope of your services and business can also be very dangerous. Imagine if the phone call in the episode happened at the beginning of the day instead of the end, if Squidward and Spongebob were paid overtime. The amount of money they would have made off of that pizza would not have made the loss of other potential customers or the overtime pay worth it. Mr. Krabs is only making a profit off of this transaction because he can get away with treating his employees poorly and somehow magically make pizzas. So while it is important to fill possible niches, always be aware that there will be an associated cost. To go back to the example of Black Shell Media, while we strive to give our clients whatever services they would like- there is also an upper limit to what we can provide. There are some things which just wouldn’t make sense for us to do, given the costs of implementing and doing those things.
Never Give Out the Krabby Patty Secret Formula
I know you’ve probably heard this a million times, but “business is war.” Believe it or not, it’s true. Business is a war of information. Information is a very powerful thing, but it depends on how you end up leveraging it. Some pieces of information are more valuable than others too. There is certain information that within the wrong hands can end companies, ruin lives, and tear apart friends. Information such as the contents of the one and only- krabby patty secret formula.
Okay, hang on, think about it. Imagine what would happen if Plankton ended up getting ahold of the secret formula. With his evil science stuff he could probably produce even more Krabby Patties and sell them at an even lower price. He could cut Mr. Krabs out of the market entirely. This explains why Mr. Krabs, Spongebob, and even Squidward at times end up going to great lengths to protect this information from falling into the wrong hands. After all, this is an entire plot formula within Spongebob. The “Plankton has devised a plan to steal the secret formula” episode is a staple which appears multiple times per season. There’s a reason why the conflict is a continuous and ongoing one, for business is very much the same way.
You always want to demonstrate that you understand what you are doing. You need to be able to convince people that you do in fact, know what you are talking about. This usually means giving up information about your trade, yet at the same time you should never give up too much. For instance, if you asked us at Black Shell Media how we manage social media growth, we will tell you. One of our methods for instance, is by posting at peak Twitter activity hours, ensuring that the our message will reach the greatest number of active Twitter users possible. What are those hours? Now that is information which we have gone to great pains to learn and use to our advantage. We might be able to give you a general time-frame which works well, but only under very special circumstances will we actually tell you the exact hours and times we focus on.
The line between being transparent and keeping something as a “trade secret” can get very blurry at times. Ultimately, it is up to the company to decide which approach works best for them. Most companies for instance, usually do not disseminate the company’s overall financial information to their employees yet I know a couple of small businesses locally which do. Giving out information can be beneficial to you, but also harmful. Choose what you share very carefully, but never disclose the krabby patty secret formula.
It’s Hip! It’s Coral! It’s… LOSING MONEY!
Did you know that Google has “nap pods” available for their employees to make use of? These days, in the age of Silicon Valley and startups, the face of business has changed. Instead of old men in business suits, it’s now young men with beards and flannel shirts. Companies are now “hip”, and do their hardest to portray themselves as such. After all, how people view your company will end up affecting whether or not they do business with you. The right aesthetic can do wonders, even if you don’t have the best product.
This brings us back to Spongebob. To say that Mr. Krabs is a cheapskate is an understatement. The Krusty Krab, as the name suggests, is a pretty barebones place which is made successful by the strength of its products. All company costs are minimized in order for the greatest profit. This becomes an issue in one episode however, when a rival restaurant moves into town. The restaurant has a mascot and a theme. As one customer puts it, it has “atmosphere”. Despite the food not being as good, the Krusty Krab begins to lose all of its customers to the rivalling restaurant. To combat this, Mr. Krabs employs his teenage daughter to inject the Krusty Krab with a little bit of style in order to re-brand it. What follows, is disaster.
The re-branding does indeed bring customers back. The Krusty Krab is turned into a cool place for teenagers and even has an overhaul to accompany this. Business is good, company image is great, and everything has been made right! Actually, not quite. In the episode, while the Krusty Krab is currently drawing in more people than it usually does- the associated expenses which accompanied the overhaul end up outweighing the incoming cash flow, causing the business to revert back to its prior existence.
The lesson here is two fold. The first is the idea I opened up with, that branding is an incredibly strong thing and can influence people. The right branding can completely change the direction of your company. The second idea here though is one which ends up qualifying the first. Net profit is more important than gross profit. You are only making money so long as what you are earning is more than what you are spending. It is approximated that %99 percent of startups fail. Many times, this is due to too much growth, far too fast. In other words, the net profit ends up being in the negatives for many companies. This means that you must play a delicate game of balance. You need to be able to craft a strong brand for your business and products, while also making sure that the goal you are aiming for is viable within the resources you currently possess.
Time is Money!
This one isn’t actually all that silly compared to the others. Even if it wasn’t from good old Mr. Krabs, you’ve probably heard this at some point in the past. However, there’s more to this saying than what meets the eye. Money is a resource and time likewise is also a resource. They are unique currencies to be spent and distributed as one sees fit. I do hope this is starting to sound familiar?
You see, taking a slight detour from Spongebob, videogames actually provide an adequate demonstration of how diverse resources can be. Look at the game Hearthstone. Could you tell me what resources are used in that game? At first glance one would just say “mana.” This however, is not true. Just about everything is a resource. Mana, health, cards on the field, cards in the player’s hand, even opportunity. In games or business, if you have a choice between two options and one option will render the other option impossible, then the first option has an “opportunity cost” associated with it. Deciding to spend mana to play one card instead of another card in Hearthstone is a demonstration of opportunity costs in a videogame.
This means that when Mr. Krabs says “Time is money!”, he is actually saying “time is a valuable resource!” Keep this in mind when running your company. If your time is valued at $100 an hour, and it would take you three hours to do something yourself, then even though it seems “free”, you are actually spending $300 to get that task done. At that point, it would actually be better to pay a third party some price under $300 to get that job done for you. This is incredibly important when making games since even if you don’t spend a single dollar on the game, you have still spent countless alternative resources in order to make it happen. Every game is an incredibly expensive venture- just sometimes not directly in money.
Now that you’ve had a chance to read and hopefully consider my mad ramblings, hopefully you can now understand how a simple children’s cartoon is not actually as dumb as it seems. Are the lessons found within Spongebob 100% accurate? Obviously not given the intense qualification I’ve had to do. Despite this, it provides a stable platform of common knowledge which helps to prove a point. New knowledge is always easier to parse within a familiar context.
Using the knowledge you have gained through humorous reference, hopefully you too will be on your way to becoming the next Mr. Krabs! Or well, a less crabby, less greedy, but still successful version of him. All it takes is a sense of humor and a desire to learn in order to make complex ideas simple!
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